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Google assembles German taskforce to tackle privacy issues

Google Maps logo is seen on a Huawei smart phone with the word Data breach on a laptop monitor. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Google (GOOG) is expanding its global security operations this week by launching a hub in Germany, as the company focuses on ensuring customer privacy across its products.

The Google Safety Engineering Centre will open in Munich, housing up to 200 privacy engineers by the year end of 2019, developing products to be used worldwide.

The tech giant’s Munich engineering operations previously built privacy and security features into its Chrome browser, including enhanced password management and tools for controlling cookies within the browser.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement on the company’s blog:

“It’s no accident that we’re building our privacy hub in the heart of Europe, and in a country that in many ways reflects how Europeans think about online safety, privacy and security.”

“This year’s expansion will take us beyond 1,000 employees for the first time, making the office a true global hub not only for privacy engineering, but for research and product development, as well.”

Pichai also announced a €10m (£8.7m) grant fund to support nonprofits, academic research institutions and social enterprises working on online safety projects across Europe.

The announcement comes at a time that tech giants, including the likes of Facebook (FB) have come under fire over data breaches and privacy concerns. While Facebook has been battling the Cambridge Analytica scandal that is leading to possible multi-billion dollar fines, Google has been slammed for its wide-scale data operations and the way its location history settings could mislead consumers.

Earlier this month, Prabhakar Raghavan, Google's senior vice president of advertising and commerce, said in an interview with CNET that the company's future depends on getting privacy right or both advertisers and users. Around 85% Google’s parent company Alphabet’s annual revenue comes from ads.